Henri Nouwen Society

Share Your Story

Henri Nouwen believed in creating community, and a great way to do that is to share your story with others.  We’d love to hear from you!  How were you introduced to Henri Nouwen’s writing? How has his writing influenced your inner journey, the way you choose to live your life?  Take a moment to share your story with us!

And see below what others have shared…

By clicking submit you are agreeing to share your story on the 'Stories from Readers' page. Thank you!

James from London writes:

One of my biggest crisis moments in my life was the constant criticism of my leadership and ministry in my first church as a pastor. The opinions and disapproval of one man, over a course of six months lead others to lose confidence, just as I was losing mine. Circumstances around health forced us to resign without closure of the issue. My wife and I were added to the statistics of the “burned-out” ministers of the church in the country. This was however when, through my psychiatrist, I met Henri Nouwen, through his book, The Wounded Healer. Henri’s openness and Love for God and people were so evident in his writing, I am sure it motivated me to respond in like manner. Time and more reading of Henri’s books showed me the many similarities in character we shared. He showed me the centrality of God’s love in our lives. This crisis became a reference point of transformation for me that the Father permitted for my growth in my love for Him. Henri was my example that it was possible to recover from pain and loss and not just survive but be stronger and more in love with my Father.

MaryLou Russell from San Antonio, TX shares:

The music staff at my church, Alamo Heights United Methodist, studied Home Tonight for our weekly Lenten meetings. This book, with its deep content and enriching activities, led me to have one of THE MOST soul-searching Lenten experiences. I am very grateful for this book. Thank you for publishing it. I have already given a copy as a gift to a colleague. I intend to spread it far and wide.

The Rev. Sheilagh Ashworth (Anglican Parish of Lloydtown) shared a memory of Henri when he was living at L’Arche Daybreak in Richmond Hill, Ontario…

I remember how Henri made the Cedars feel like an abundant and friendly home. When Henri lived at the Cedars (then the Dayspring) he had his room on the main floor and there were retreat rooms open for guests also on the main floor (the chapel was the whole of the basement). He never tired of welcoming people to his home. He took such joy in celebrating the Eucharist each morning and sharing a glass of wine (usually his bottle) in the evening. The Cedars’ living room contained one of the best libraries on the spiritual life – also Henri’s. His generous spirit was evident to all in the way he shared what he treasured – books, the spiritual life, good wine and friendship. Henri helped me become a more generous, spiritually alive and compassionate person and I give thanks to God for him.

Tom Vaughn wrote:

It was when I first read Henri’s books that I came to realize that in my brokenness I can help another heal but that I also receive healing precisely in that reaching out. One can’t have it unless one gives it away. Praise God for this beautiful man’s ministry!

Rebecca Schneider of Mechanicsburg, Il shares:

I have fallen away from the church. I have somewhat fallen away from God. After receiving daily reflections through my employer email I feel myself being pulled back home. Henri Nouwen speaks to me. He seems to feel my pain and confusion and eases my mind. I wish I could have known him.

Shirley Trottier writes:

April 18/16. I woke at 3am this morning with a tremendous decision that I feel I must make. The outcome could go either way. I prayed and prayed for the Trinity to take this problem from me and help me. I begged the Holy Spirit to talk to me, guide me to do what must be done. Thoughts some with light but also the darkness crept in. So again I prayed to my mother Mary, St. Jude…etc etc….but to no avail. I could not sleep and my mind was filled with this issue. Then at 6:10am I open my computer to find today’s meditation “The Spirit Will Speak in Us”…My prayers & begging were answered!!! Help will come!!! I cannot tell you how often the daily messages seem to be just for me. God bless you all….

Mike O Sullivan shares:

I was drawn to Henri’s writing while a catholic seminarian, I was deeply touched by his sense of a loving God and our own brokenness. I left the seminary and now 30 years latter having battled alcohol addiction, still wounded and still broken I am training ( in my final year) to be a Minister within the protestant faith. Henri still touches and amazes me. In fact I am preaching about him this coming Sunday. Thank you so much Henri for helping me through my dark day’s, for helping me embrace my brokenness.

Doris J. Hirsch wrote:

One day at church we were discussing what subject would be good for discussion. One of the ladies said “Have you read The Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen”..”why no” I said “Is it a good read?” “Yes, it is awesome, and well worth the read, we could discuss it.” The conversation and the discussion was ended. I went to the book store there the book sat. I bought it and read it and just glued to the book and to Henri’s writings. I read it again, then read it again, underlined my thoughts, saw things I had never thought of. I have read it several times and my dear little book is full of my comments. I was a Christian at that point, loved the Lord but there was just something in those writings that would not let me go. As time went on for awhile it was on the shelf, let friends read and now as I sit here it is in my hand again and I am loving the book. I would love a discussion on the book. Henri had something in his writings that I have not found in many writings. He showed who he was the good side yes, but also the imperfect…he was a man of faith and love. This book is for both the young and the older, it is a book of love, a book of walking with Christ – it seems you just travel with Jesus right through the book. These are my thoughts and I think it is my very favorite book still because it pulls at my heart strings….I love all of His writings but this one I walked away hungry for more Christ.

Dorothy McCabe shares:

Henri’s ability to open himself to others, vulnerable and struggling, touched my heart. His ability to connect with all of mankind opened my heart to the possibility that I am part of all humanity too. Early in my life I struggled alone, never feeling worthy or loved. When I finally was introduced to Henri’s writings when I became 70, I knew I had received the gift from God I had always dreamed of, the gift of belonging. I became well aware that Henri did not experience total completion at the time of his death, but he kept on working toward God, which will be his completion. So I am able to accept that I will not reach anything like perfection in this world, but I now try unceasingly to walk this journey with hope. Henri’s openness and gentleness have become my guide.

James Heene writes:

My spiritual journey was stagnating as a result of a relying on the knowledge of Gods love for me , as compared to entering into an ongoing consciousness of His love for me . It took some rather painful events to bring about this transformation but the awareness of His reality and evidences of His love and mercy are deeper and more personal than ever before. Through brokenness and integration comes wholeness . Just as nature in its splendour testifies of Gods designing greatness , so also does re-creation , the remaking of my soul as lived in experiencing Gods love for me .

Brother Richard wrote:

I have been a fan and follower of Henri Nouwen for many years, in my work as a non-denominational pastor, worshipper and teacher. Though we have already met in spirit, his blessed books and words will always resonate in my heart until we finally meet, in person, in Heaven. Brother Nouwen’s words live on in the work of this society, in the spirit of another blessed brother, David, the Sweet Psalmist of Israel:

“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.”
– Ps: xix. xiv

Gus Koerner writes:

In 2012, tomorrow (Nov. 11) being the anniversary, I was awakened by God that my work is His work and I was called to His ministry. This happened when I was helping soon to be released prison inmates get back to and successfully integrate into their communities. The calling was so clear it was virtually audible and I contemplated over that for months. Finally, I spoke with my local pastor, began the process and became a Certified Lay Servant in my church. The next year I became a Candidate for the Ministry in The United Methodist Church and I am my third year of that process.

The reason I chose you is because one of the “sparks” that ignited this change and evolution of my spirit occurred at your abbey about 1996. About that time, I was introduced to your community by mutual friends Jim and Gary. In the winter of ‘96-‘97 Jim brought me to a personal retreat there and I worked with, toured, worshiped and broke bread with you. I felt so welcomed. It was also that weekend that I picked up a book in the lobby and read it cover to cover for the next few days. The book is, “Return of the Prodigal Son”, by Henri J.M. Nouwen. I discovered that not only I am the prodigal son, but I am also the older brother and the father in that story.

Ann Smienk says:

I’m an 80-year-old widow. I recently gave up my home and I am now renting an apartment where people of my age live. I’m finding it very difficult and I am so often lonely. I have become interested in Henri Nouwen’s writings. I hope to get to read a lot of his works.